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Taiwan Researchers Find Poverty and Poor Health Could No Longer Be Intertwined

  • 2015-09-21
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Healthy living practices in families is proven to be of help to reduce socioeconomic disparity for child health. The prevalence of poor health for children of low-income families with high level of healthy living practices was lower than that for children of high-income families with low level of practices. This discrepancy suggested that healthy living practices in families are crucial for enhancing child health, even for children with socioeconomic disadvantages. The study is led by researchers at National Taiwan University and published in International Journal of Public Health in July.

The study is conducted by Dr. Yi-Ching Lin, the project assistant professor, and Prof. Tung-liang Chiang, the corresponding author from National Taiwan University. Family is the most important setting where children learn and develop health routines, habits, attitudes, and social behaviors. However, family poverty has been recognized as a primary and pervasive cause of children’s ill health.

The data-set was obtained from the Taiwan Birth Cohort Study, comprising a nationally representative sample of 19,712 3-year-old children. “We created the index, Child Healthy Living Practices in Families (CHLPF) which includes items of personal hygiene, vegetable and fruit consumption, physical activity, television viewing and exposure to smoking,” said Dr. Yi-Ching Lin. All five of these elements were measured using a dichotomized scale, and the scores were summed and stratified into low (score≦1), mid-low (score 2), mid-high (score 3), and high (score≧4) CHLPF levels. The construct represents how well children practice their healthy living routines in their own family setting.

The study indicates that the enhanced CHLPF were significantly and consistently associated with better child health in families of all income levels. The major findings are:

  • In the total study sample, 38.5 percwent of children had good healthy living practices in families (CHLPE score≧3). More specifically, the percentage of children from wealthy families with good healthy living practices was two times more than the one of children from poor families with good healthy living practices.
  • A gradient shown between CHPLF levels and the mother-rated health of children was evident, with children with higher CHPLF levels more like to be healthier.
  • The highest prevalence of children with poor mother-rated health was observed in the group of children who were in low-income families and had low CHLPF levels. The prevalence of poor mother-rated health for children of low-income families with high CHLPF levels was lower than that for children of high-income families with low CHLPF levels. This discrepancy suggested that healthy living practices in families are crucial for enhancing child health, even for children with socioeconomic disadvantages.